Pregnancy in a case of Parkinson’s disease is a rare phenomenon because of the obvious fact that Parkinson’s disease occurs most commonly in the elderly, when women are well past the age of menopause, or a woman who has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease may opt not to become pregnant. However, Parkinson’s disease does occur in the younger age group (early onset of Parkinson’s disease) in a small percentage of cases, and also the fact that women nowadays are opting to have children at a much later age, does increase the incidence of pregnancy in Parkinson’s disease.
There is evidence to show that the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease may become aggravated during the course of pregnancy, most likely as a result of the circulating hormones during pregnancy. Various studies are currently being conducted to study the effects of medicines used in Parkinson’s disease on pregnancy.
Signs and Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease & Pregnancy
There are certain changes in the body that take place in Parkinson’s disease which may be similar to those associated with pregnancy and these may aggravate when both conditions co-exist. The symptoms may be similar, such as :
- Weight gain
- Difficulty in maintaining posture and balance, increasing chances of falling
- Slowness of movement
- Nausea and vomiting
- Hypersalivation or increased salivation
- Frequency or increased micturition – the need to pass urine more often.
Many Parkinson’s disease patients do not have any aggravation of their symptoms during pregnancy and this should not be a cause for concern. It is advisable to discuss the possibilities with your medical practitioner if you are suffering with Parkinson’s disease and have fallen pregnant or planning pregnancy.
Medicines in Parkinson’s Disease & Pregnancy
The studies on pregnant Parkinson’s patients has offered only limited result due to the small numbers of participants in these studies. However, pharmacodynamics related to drug therapy in Parkinson’s disease provide an indication of which medicines may not be safe to use during pregnancy.
- Levodopa – this is considered to be the most effective and most commonly used medicine for Parkinson’s disease. Pregnant women continuing with levodopa therapy during pregnancy have been known to deliver normal healthy babies with no complications during pregnancy in maximum number of cases.
- Selegiline – according to animal testing, taking this medicine is not advisable during pregnancy, although one reported case does show the birth of a healthy baby after a woman took selegiline throughout her pregnancy.
- Amantadine – animal testing shows that chances of defects in the fetus are more common with the use of this drug and hence it is best avoided during pregnancy.
- L-dopa-benserazide – one case has been reported of a woman being treated with this drug without having any complications during pregnancy and with the delivery of a healthy baby.
- Anti-emetics – medicines to reduce nausea and vomiting of pregnancy, such as metoclopramide and prochlorperazine, should not be used as they tend to increase the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
Special attention must be given to a pregnant Parkinson’s disease patient to help her cope with her various symptoms, which may be aggravated as a result of pregnancy, with the aim being to deliver a normal healthy baby.